Forbes Says Self-Reliant Homesteaders Are "Delusional" And "Mooching" Off "Civil Society"

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

It’s always interesting reading when someone smug and sanctimonious writes a clueless diatribe about another group of people being smug and sanctimonious. So when I saw that an economist for Moody’s and Forbes had written an op-ed calling self-reliant homesteaders “delusional,” I knew I’d be in for some misinformed hilarity.

The article, entitled, “Dear Homesteaders, Self-Reliance Is a Delusion” was published a couple of days ago on the Forbes website. You’ll be forewarned that the article won’t be deep in the first paragraph, when the author presents his claim to knowledge about self-reliant living comes from the fact that he is “a big fan of shows about doomsday preppers, homesteaders, survivalists, generally people who live off the grid.”

And the well-informed opinion of this arbiter of self-reliance?

…there’s a central delusion in these shows that is never far from my mind when I’m watching these shows: off the grid people are not self-reliant, but instead are mooching off of the civil society, government, and safety net the rest of us contribute to…

 

The people in these shows often describe a very romantic vision of the lives they have chosen the ethos underlying it. They describe themselves as fully self-reliant, and criticize the rest of society as being dependent and lacking in this self-reliance. It is morally superior, the story goes, to provide for yourself, take care of your own needs, and often, be prepared to survive if society collapses.

First, let me segue a little bit and tell you about the author. According to his bio on Economy.com:

Adam Ozimek is an associate director and senior economist in the West Chester office of Moody’s Analytics. Adam covers state and regional economies, as well U.S. labor markets and demographics. Prior to joining Moody’s Analytics, Adam was Senior Economist and Director of Research for Econsult Solutions, an economics consulting company. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Temple University and his bachelor’s degree in economics from West Chester University.

So based on this, I’m going to guess that homesteading and off-grid living aren’t his jam. I mean, he might head down to the Westtown Amish Market there in Pennsylvania, but I’d be willing to place money on that being his closest brush with any real, live, self-reliant homesteaders.

His ill-conceived argument seems to be mostly focused on health care. He is baffled about what will happen if a homesteader becomes ill or gets injured.

” On Live Free Or Die, a man in his mid sixties named Colbert lives in the Georgia swamps alone….I always wonder what will happen if he slips and falls, and can no longer provide for himself. He’ll likely end up receiving hospital treatment paid for with Medicare, and perhaps end up in an assisted living center paid for by Medicare as well.”

Or…

“Another example from Live Free or Die is Tony and Amelia,  a couple who live on a simple, off-the-grid homestead in North Carolina. When I watch them I wonder what would happen if one became extremely sick, and simple, off-the-grid home medicine couldn’t treat them. Would they say “we’ve chosen our fate, and now we die by it”, or would they seek treatment in a hospital they couldn’t afford which would be covered by the hospital’s charity care or perhaps Medicaid?”

One thing that Dr. Ozimek is missing is the fact that most homesteaders are tax-paying citizens. Does he think that living on a homestead exempts one from property taxes? Does he suppose that their vehicles don’t have license plates or that their fuel is purchased without the requisite state gasoline tax? Or that maybe they have some special card that lets them buy things like feed without paying sales tax? Perhaps homesteading equipment like tractors and tools and off-grid appliances are likewise purchased without any gain to “society.”

As well, he’s under the assumption, based on his vast body of knowledge gleaned from watching TV, that self-reliant homesteaders don’t make any money or have any insurance. I know homesteaders who are retirees from other jobs who have a fine pension and excellent health insurance. I know others who make a good living with their homesteading endeavors. And there are still others who live simply after working for years to pay cash for their homestead, or families in which one spouse works a full-time job to support the homestead.

But, Ozimek, whose informed point of view comes from only the most extreme of the group featured on for-profit-and-ratings television shows, doesn’t understand that. He continues to espouse the superiority of the non-agrarian lifestyle:

If we all lived “self-reliant” lives like Tony often implores us, spending most of our time on basic agricultural subsistence, then modern hospitals couldn’t exist. It’s only because most of us choose to not live agrarian “self-reliant” lifestyles that this care would be available to Tony, Amelia, and perhaps someday, their children. And what if both of them become too injured to work the land anymore? Would they starve to death, or would they survive off of the social safety net our government provides, like food stamps?

 

In fairness to Tony, Amelia, and Colbert, perhaps they would refuse the modern medical care and modest safety net in the case of an accident or illness, and would simply choose to die. I don’t think most homesteaders would, but we don’t know.

Yeah, because homesteaders can’t do anything but homestead.

Some people are producers and other people are consumers.

Ozimek thinks that someone with the extensive skills required to live off the grid would be completely unable to find employment and would have no option but to become a welfare recipient should their homesteading endeavor fall apart.

What he’s missing is that his cushy “civilized” lifestyle is completely reliant on the type of people he scorns. He forgets that someone, somewhere is growing his food. Someone, somewhere, is assuring that his energy reaches his home. Someone is ensuring that his plumbing works, someone is repairing his furnace if it breaks, and someone is transporting the goods he purchases to the store, where someone will sell him those goods.

But, that’s what happens when someone is only a consumer and not a producer. They think that producers are somehow less worthy, and that if they couldn’t produce what the consumers consume, they’d be totally out of options.

The cool thing about self-reliant homesteaders is that we aren’t one-trick ponies. We can produce all sorts of things and provide all kinds of services. It’s called “having skills.”

Most self-reliant homesteaders aren’t reality TV stars.

Since his entire argument is based on the tv programs he watches, the author doesn’t understand what self-reliance means to those of us who aren’t reality television stars.

It means:

  • We provide a lot of our own food because we prefer to know where it comes from.
  • We raise our own meat because we object to the way factory-farmed animals are treated.
  • We use our own sources of power because maybe we’re green at heart or maybe we just prefer not to be tied into the “smart” grid.
  • We learn to make our own products for cleaning, bathing, and making life pleasant because we don’t want to bring chemical toxins into our homes.
  • We’d rather skip the middle man and spend our time actually making the things that most people work for hours to purchase from someone else who made them.
  • We are far less likely to spend time at the doctor’s office because a) we aren’t huge fans of pharmaceuticals, b) we can take care of small things ourselves, and c) our healthier lifestyle means we tend to be less likely to be ill. (Although this isn’t always the case – even self-reliant homesteaders can get sick. And when we do, we use our insurance or we pay for it with savings. Just like everyone else.)
  • We don’t need as much money because we just don’t need as much stuff.

But to someone who buys all of their food and other goods from the store and gets all of their medicine from the pharmacy, it can be difficult to understand the satisfaction that comes from evading those places.

But, safety…

Of course, if self-reliant homesteaders pass all of the Forbes columnist’s other tests, he can still dismiss their achievements by going full-blown statist.

Yet even if one refuses help and care, however, they still benefit from the modern civil society thanks to the private property protections, rule of law, and military that provide them with safety and security.

 

Many off-the-grid folks like to fantasize that their personal fire arms collection and self-defense skills are actually why they are safe. But how far would this take them in a society without the rule of law, an effective government, and law enforcement? The homesteader who is confident their security is in their own hands should go live off-the-grid in Syria and find out how far self-protection takes them.

 

And it’s not just police and a military that keep homesteaders safe. It’s also widespread prosperity. In the developed world, a basic education is available to all, and most people who want a job can find one. Living in a prosperous, modern economy means that homesteaders can take a good bit of their own safety from violence for granted and roving bandits are not likely to take their homes from them.

So, by the mere fact of our existence in this country, according to Ozimek, none of us are self-reliant. It boggles the mind that this fellow successfully wrote and defended a doctoral thesis.

This is how reliant people justify their reliance.

I guess what it boils down to is that this is what helps Ozimek and people like him justify living their lives without any practical skills. If things did go sideways in a long-term kind of way, who is going to be better off: a person who can claim a Ph.D. in economics or someone who can actually produce food?

The fact is, the less we require from society, the less power that society has over us. Our lifestyles give us some distance from the hustle and the bustle. We don’t have to make as much money because we don’t live in the consumer matrix that engulfs so much of society. We are content to live simply instead of hustling from one non-productive activity to another.

Most of us don’t eschew all the benefits of living in a modern society. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Having a corporate job doesn’t preclude growing your own tomatoes any more than having a herd of goats precludes having health insurance.

There is a joy in making a meal that came entirely from your own backyard that these people will never get to experience, and having spent many years in the corporate world, I can tell you which provides the most satisfaction for me.

In this society where nearly everyone is digitally connected 24 hours a day, it’s nice to step away from all that and break the addiction to constant stimulation. It’s nice to not always be trading the hours in your day for the things that someone else made while you were working on something that, if we’re being honest, is kind of pointless in the grand scheme of survival.

If Dr. Ozimek wants to talk about delusions and superiority, he could find all the inspiration he needs by taking a look in the mirror.

Comments

barndoor de3de8 Thu, 08/03/2017 - 08:47 Permalink

The author has a valid point - that homesteaders benefit from the availability of resources that would not exist if everyone was a homesteader. But you can make that point about just about everything. People who enter the priesthood benefit from a system that could not exist if everyone dedicated their lives to spiritual pursuits.  For instance, if everyone pursued a life dedicated to their religion, there would be no hospitals. Same thing goes for people who chose to be stay-at-home parents to their children. So what?The real point here is that people are free to pursue their version of what constitutes a good life, within the constraints of the larger system (like paying tax on gasoline, property tax, etc.).  Just because the system is dependent on income tax doesn’t mean that you have to devote your life to earning wages. Society is free to develop a system, are we are free to live on the margins of that system so long as we don’t break any law.  That is a reasonable trade-off.  It has always been thus, and hopefully always will be.

In reply to by de3de8

barndoor JRobby Thu, 08/03/2017 - 08:49 Permalink

"Ozimick should be euthanized."What is it with the death cult on the far right?  You can't simply disagree with someone anymore; they must be put to death.Crazy-dumb comments like this are about the only thing that could make the original article seem reasonable. 

In reply to by JRobby

Offthebeach CuttingEdge Thu, 08/03/2017 - 08:06 Permalink

We didn't have "security welfare beurocracy, AKA Police" untill 1890s.  We got along fine.  And cheap. And Fed gov, State gov didn't have mechanism to enFORCE their whims.How much death and injury is caused by taxation?  Example,  say all in 50% taxation.  That means fisherman have to go to sea, twice as often.  Half for their families,  half for the King and his coatholders. So twice as much drowning,  hooks in eyes, cut hands, tackle blocks to the face....same with loggers, truck drivers have to drive twice as many miles....more trucks, more wear and tear, more deaths, more pollution, crowded highways were everbody else has to work twice as much to pay taxes...So, roughly,  half of all workplace deaths, injuries, rapes, half of all that pollution,  oil burnt,  cars and highways and bridges ....is for taxation....And its the fault of some , basically, old tymey thrifty people?     

In reply to by CuttingEdge

AurorusBorealus williambanzai7 Thu, 08/03/2017 - 02:21 Permalink

Everyone knows that a Ph.D. in economics is not a real Ph.D., like ¨women´s studies¨ or ¨sociology.¨ Ph.D. is an abbreviation for Doctorate of Philosophy.  One who lays claim to such a title must also have a broad basis of knowledge.  In the past, economics sought to understand the human condition in its fullest expression.  Their studies ranged from population dynamics to critical analysis of the benefits of a division of labor (see, for example, The Division of Labor in Society, which was a work of ¨sociology,¨ but was broadly conceived, carefully argued, and examined economic arrangements from a perspective that included the pyschological and social well-being of real people).  In the modern ¨discipline¨ of economics, it´s practicitioners have become nothing more than clever double-entry book-keepers.

In reply to by williambanzai7

Yen Cross Thu, 08/03/2017 - 02:12 Permalink

  Like a homesteader doesn't know how to use medical care outside of the opiate family. This tard represents why the .gov funnel of free $'s needs to be closed. That asshole wouldn't last a week, if things went bad. I wonder if that assclown is capable of shooting a rubber-band?

mantrid Thu, 08/03/2017 - 02:13 Permalink

having read "When Money Dies" book I can say for sure whoever can produce food for themselves and others will not only make a buck but also save others and their kids. and our money is about to die this way or another indeed.

DEMIZEN Thu, 08/03/2017 - 02:18 Permalink

ozimek is a mooch and a foo. he wouldnt survive a day in a real world. he calls himself an economist, but the only numbers he uses in his retarded research is "24hrs" he could also say "a whole day" but 24hrs sounds more empirical. thats his "methods part of the opus"what a fucking idiot. sad.

beeeeeep Thu, 08/03/2017 - 02:16 Permalink

I don't understand how he can criticize Colbert when what he's doing is basically living a retired life.  He paid into society aplenty when he was working so he should definitely be free to partake of everything he paind into.  Many of these people are jealous that they know they cannot survive outside their constructs and know they will have to conitnually be raped by taxes and fees and see no escape but death.  Illinois instantly just made it legal to steal $1200 more a year out of my paycheck so bye bye.

barndoor beeeeeep Thu, 08/03/2017 - 09:23 Permalink

I agree 100%.  Most people have a deep distrust of people living an individualistic lifestyle, especially if that lifestyle may give them an advantage if the system takes a turn for the worse.I have had many friends tell me that they will come live with me if the system goes down.My response is simple; "No you won't."

In reply to by beeeeeep

Rebelrebel7 (not verified) Thu, 08/03/2017 - 02:18 Permalink

Forbes is just upset because he can't profit from debt free self reliance! The only delusional thing that I am aware of is those who believe that they can survive the apocalypse.  Nobody can. The end of the world is exactly that! Who would want to? Disease would be rampant just from the corpses alone, assuming that someone did actually survive.

Cloud9.5 Rebelrebel7 (not verified) Thu, 08/03/2017 - 07:09 Permalink

I won’t live beyond a year when the grid goes down.  When the blood pressure medicine runs out I am done.  I have a son on the other hand who has three little children and a beautiful wife.  Congress says that when the grid goes down we will lose ninety percent of our population within the first year.  My goal is to make it possible for those five people to be part of the surviving ten percent.  With luck and pluck, they can make it through.  I have a spot of land.  We have food, fuel and ammo.  We live in a small town and we have friends and family who still farm.  I have a forge and a foundry.  I have a machine shop. I have running water out back.  I have the components for a wood gas generator and I have generators that run on gas and propane. I will have a functioning machine shop after the grid goes down.  I have a library that encompasses blacksmithing, gunsmithing, organic gardening, herbal medicines and a host of other topics.  Will my kids make it?  God only knows, but I am not going to sit on my hands and wait on a deeply flawed system to rescue them.

In reply to by Rebelrebel7 (not verified)

Eyes Opened Cloud9.5 Thu, 08/03/2017 - 10:10 Permalink

Beetroot juice is a proven med for hi blood pressure...I know this to be a fact as I use it myself...So git growing my man...  :-)Also,  cut sugar COMPLETELY outta yer diet.. mebee a bit of manuka honey once in a while... & eat garlic til its coming out of yer pores...I have more info but its easily found out there... btw... No solar pv/water ?? 

In reply to by Cloud9.5

Anteater Kulafarmer Thu, 08/03/2017 - 02:42 Permalink

Just the 40 acres we had was a full-time job, and after we soldoff all the produce and butchered the steer for winter, all wehad to eat was beef and potatoes, fruits jams and wines ofevery kind, and cabbages and turnips from the root cellar.OK, we had enough to eat, but never had enough money. But again, what was the premise? 'Preppers are delusional.'Do they have acreage? Do they have farming equipment?The original homestead we worked was pioneered out of theforest by an old guy who showed up on day to say howdie.We asked him what it was like back in the hard times. Hesaid so many men came up-valley from the city in gangswith the Depression, they ate all the grains and killed allthe livestock. So he locked the house, and went with themover to the Columbia dams, ...where you made 25c a day,6x12s, with a canvas tent and a plate of beans and gravy. He never went back. Place sat empty in the family until wewere fool enough to lease it. Never could afford to live there,working all summer with tag-along equipment, then splittingshakes in the winter just to buy parts, diesel and seed. If itwas the end of the world, I wouldn't go back and be a target. Today it's a berry farm. Nobody lives there. Once a year a bigmachine drives up and down the rows, then it goes quiet again.Just snow drifting slowly down, turning into drizzling cold rain.The deathly silence of the grave, that preppers will end up in.350,000,000 guns, and two billion rounds of crazy White folks.

In reply to by Kulafarmer

OverTheHedge Anteater Thu, 08/03/2017 - 03:32 Permalink

40 acres is a BIG piece of land if you are working it by hand.  The issue here is that food is priced as a commodity, not a manufactured item, so there is never enough money to make ends meet as a farmer, unless you manage to find a way to rig the system by using government subsidies to your benefit.At some point, there may be less food than the market requires, but given that a third is thrown away uneaten, there is quite a lot of headroom yet.Moral of the story: don't try to grow food for profit. If you do, add value by processing it (grapes into alcohol etc). I currently farm tourists as my self-sufficiency method - I have no illusions about the long-term future, but for now, life is good.

In reply to by Anteater

Eyes Opened Anteater Thu, 08/03/2017 - 03:38 Permalink

Interesting story Anteater.. tanxBut I don't think "homesteaders" are aiming for post-apocalyptic survival, I think most just want  .gov out of their lives & the freedom to make choices. Also , the pace of modern life is just too much for many (most ?) I've lived in the Irish countryside these past 12 years, originally from the big schmoke in Dublin, I would NEVER go back. Life is much more leisurely & whilst the dark winter months are monotonous, I love it here.As an engineer/machinist with my own well equipped shop, I am the go-to-guy for farm equipment repairs & such. I also refurbished my old stone cottage, new plumbing/re-wiring/wet central heating/mega-insulation. Vacuum-tube solar water heating is on my list before the y/e.I'm aiming to have a super efficient "passive-house" , not off-grid but VERY low grid-dependence. Its a lifestyle...The author of this article is typical of those who live their lives in "the box" & have NO concept of what an alternative lifestyle consist of, apart his reality-teevee education. No one should be surprised at his establishment response.... it's all he knows... 

In reply to by Anteater

Eyes Opened They_Live Thu, 08/03/2017 - 10:18 Permalink

NO  !! sorry, didnt mean to shout...Well ... actually , at 60yrs now, I'll probably end up taking me knowledge with me...had a neighbour kid who was interested in learnin stuff 'til he found out about girls.. lolEver since I was a kid, I was a sponge for knowledge (particularly tech stuff) , I'm jack-of-all but master-of-none... I like it dat way...  :-)

In reply to by They_Live